Advocacy Groups Challenge THE MIRACLE WORKER Casting
According to a report in the New York Times this morning, members of advocacy groups such the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts - an advocacy group for blind and deaf actors - are none to pleased with the casting of Abigail Breslin as Hellen Keller in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker.
Says Alliance director Susan Jensen to the Times, "We do not think it's O.K. for reputable producers to cast this lead role without seriously considering an actress from our community... I understand how difficult it is to capitalize a new production on Broadway, but that to me is not the issue. There are other, larger human and artistic issues at stake here."
According to the report, lead producer David Richenthal decided to revive the show with the understanding that he would cast a star in the role, as he believes star power is the only way to make money for investors on Broadway these days. No deaf or blind actresses fit his celebrity bill.
To read the full report in the New York Times, click here.
This first revival of William Gibson's Tony Award winning play THE MIRACLE WORKER will celebrate its 50th Anniversary of opening on Broadway.
Directed by Kate Whoriskey (Ruined), THE MIRACLE WORKER will star Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Tony Award nominee Alison Pill (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) as Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, iconic roles made famous by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in the Tony Award winning play and landmark feature film adaptation.
THE MIRACLE WORKER will be staged in the round for the first time at Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50 Street). Previews will begin on Friday, February 12, 2010 toward an official opening Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Additional casting will be announced shortly.
Set in the South in the 1880s, THE MIRACLE WORKER tells the story of real-life Medal of Freedom winner Helen Keller, blind and deaf, and the extraordinary teacher who taught her to communicate with the world, Annie Sullivan.
Young film star Abigail Breslin will make her Broadway debut in the role of Helen Keller. She made her breakthrough feature film appearance as Mel Gibson's leading lady at the tender age of five in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 film Signs, and received an Academy Award® nomination for her critically-acclaimed title role performance in the runaway hit comedy Little Miss Sunshine.
Alison Pill returns to the stage following starring on Broadway in Mauritius and in the Off-Broadway hits reasons to be pretty and Blackbird, for which she received Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award nominations. She was nominated for a Tony Award® for her Broadway debut in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. She recently appeared in the hit feature film Milk opposite Sean Penn and the acclaimed HBO series "In Treatment."
Director Kate Whoriskey most recently staged the acclaimed and much-extended world premiere of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize winning play Ruined at the Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club and Inked Baby at Playwrights Horizons. Theater credits include regional productions of Heartbreak House, The Rose Tattoo, Antigone and Intimate Apparel, as well as Off-Broadway's Fabulation. Whoriskey was recently named artistic director of Seattle's Intiman Theatre.
Playwright William Gibson first adapted the story of Helen Keller and her teacher into a television teleplay called "The Miracle Worker" in 1957. He made his Broadway debut as a playwright with the love story Two for the Seesaw, starring Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft, and received his first Tony Award® nomination for the show. The Miracle Worker followed in 1959, with Bancroft as Sullivan and Patty Duke as Keller. The piece won the Tony Award® for Best Play in 1960. Gibson's other works include Golden Boy, Raggedy Ann, A Cry of Players and Golda's Balcony. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 95.
David Richenthal has produced several multi-award winning productions, including Death of a Salesman, Long Days Journey Into Night, The Crucible and I Am My Own Wife. Tomorrow evening his production of the revival of Finian's Rainbow opens at the ST. James Theatre on Broadway.
THE MIRACLE WORKER originally opened at The Playhouse Theatre on October 19, 1959 and was awarded the 1960 Tony Award® for Best Play in addition to garnering leading lady Anne Bancroft a Tony Award® for Best Actress in a Play for the role of Annie Sullivan and a Theatre World Award for newcomer Patty Duke for her portrayal of Helen Keller. Both actresses received Academy Awards® for their work in the feature film adaptation.
Abigail Breslin (Helen Keller)made her breakthrough film appearance as Mel Gibson's leading lady at the tender age of five in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 film Signs. She is perhaps best known for her critically-acclaimed title role performance in the runaway hit comedy Little Miss Sunshine. Abigail received Academy Award, SAG and BAFTA best supporting actress nominations and was honored with a best actress award from the Tokyo International Film Festival as well as being named ShoWest's "Female Star of Tomorrow" in 2008. Other film credits include Raising Helen, No Reservations, Definitely Maybe, Nim's Island and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. This summer, she starred opposite Cameron Diaz in the Warner Brother's film My Sister's Keeper and can currently be seen starring in Columbia's hit horror comedy Zombieland opposite Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone. Abigail can next be seen opposite Johnny Depp in Rango, Gore Verbinski's animated adventure film for Paramount Pictures.
Alison Pill (Annie Sullivan) most recently starred on Broadway in Mauritius and in the Off-Broadway hits reasons to be pretty and Blackbird, for which she received Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in The Lieutenant of Inishmore and for a Lucille Lortel Award for On the Mountain. She won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble in the U.S. premiere of The Distance from Here and starred in an Off-Broadway run of None of the Above. Film work includes Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Milk, Dan in Real Life, Dear Wendy, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Pieces of April. Television includes "In Treatment" (HBO), "The Book of Daniel" (NBC), "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," and the upcoming miniseries "The Pillars of the Earth."
Kate Whoriskey (Director) was recently represented Off-Broadway with Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre's acclaimed co-production of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize winning play Ruined for which she earned Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Jeff Award (excellence in Chicago Theatre) nominations. New York credits include The Piano Teacher by Julia Cho at the Vineyard Theatre, Last Tree in Antartica by Julia Cho at Ensemble Studio Theatre, the world premiere of Fabulation by Lynn Nottage at Playwrights Horizons and Massacre by Jose Rivera at the Labyrinth Theatre Company of which she is a member. She also directed The Tempest at Shakespeare Theatre, the world premiere of Vigils, The Rose Tattoo and Heartbreak House at the Goodman Theatre, the world premiere of Intimate Apparel, The Piano Teacher, Life is a Dream, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antigone, and Clean House at South Coast Repertory, Master Builder at The American Repertory Theatre, and Blue/Orange, Lady from the Sea and The Chairs at the Intiman Theatre. She has worked with writers Nilo Cruz, Sarah Ruhl, Michael Oondaatje, ReGina Taylor and Said Sayrefezadieh. Other theatres where she has directed include Theatre for a New Audience, Baltimore Center Stage, Perseverance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sundance Theatre Lab, The Fisher Center, The Eugene O'Neill Center and GeVa Theatre. A graduate of NYU and the ART Institute at Harvard, she is currently a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and an associate artist at South Coast Rep. She was recently named the Artistic Director of the Intiman Theatre.
William Gibson (Playwright) was most recently represented on Broadway in 2003 with the production of Golda's Balcony. Born in 1914 in New York City, he has written poetry, fiction and scripts for stage, television and films. His plays include The Miracle Worker (Tony Award®, Best Play 1960), which was originally produced for television's Playhouse 90; Two for the Seesaw; A Cry of Players; Golda; The Butterfingers Angel; Monday After the Miracle; Goodly Creatures; and Handy Dandy. He is the author of a novel, The Cobweb, as well as the musical version of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy. His several books include The Seesaw Log, A Mass for the Dead - a study of his family - and a volume of poetry entitled Winter Crook. Mr. Gibson's book, A Season in Heaven, takes a look at metaphysics and the creative process. His most recent book is Shakespeare's Game, a critical study. He was married to the psychoanalyst Margaret Brenman-Gibson, whose biography, Clifford Odets, American Playwright, was release in 1982.
For more information visit, www.miracleworkeronbroadway.com.
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